By Anne Ruisi
Hugs and huge smiles were the order of the day as Post Place in Vestavia Hills, an arm of nonprofit organization Unless U, held its grand opening Aug. 5.
“We’re thankful to the Lord for the expansion and provision to serve more families,” said Lindy Cleveland, Unless U’s founder and executive director.
Unless U provides faith-based continuing education for adults with intellectual and development disabilities. It also provides instruction in development and life skills to its students.
Post Place, in the former Jefferson County ARC site on Hackberry Road, is a satellite campus of the main Unless U site next to Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. Unless U moved into the Post Place facility on June 6, Greer said. The building was completely renovated to make it appropriate to the organization’s needs.
The day program is a college-style experience for small groups of adults with special needs that had been offered at the main campus. The students now at Post Place require more assistance, and space constraints at the main campus meant Unless U could only work with five students a day, said Doug Williamson, a member of the organization’s board of directors and Cleveland’s father. The new facility will have a capacity of 40.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to expand the services of Unless U and increase services to the families we serve at this location,” Williamson said.
Those services include classes in math, reading, science, history, Bible study and electives in the fine arts. Students also learn life skills, such as communication and healthy interaction, said Paula Heath, community and outreach coordinator. More one-on-one instruction is offered at Post Place and class sizes are smaller.
“It gives students with different abilities the opportunity to grow and learn,” said Jennifer Greer, Post Place director.
Unless U and Post Place services are strictly for people 18 and older who’ve graduated high school, according to Unless U’s website.
“The whole concept is these families and students don’t have a lot of options once they become adults. Lindy saw the need and wanted to provide services,” Heath said.
Greer, who was a special education teacher for 25 years in Vestavia Hills City Schools, agreed that once special needs students graduate from high school, there aren’t a lot of options.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said.
While the Post Place students now are young adults, there are no age limits as to how long they can stay, Greer said.
“When I think about Post Place, the word hope comes into my heart,” Greer said.